When I was studying
Psychology, my tutor talked about the comic actor Peter Sellers, who had no
ego. Whatever part he happened to be playing that is who he was all the
time, on stage, with his family or friends or even when alone at night; not a
man at all, just a series of roles.
Coincidently it was
around this time that I met Enid, and yet for a long time I did not see any
connection. She was a lovely girl; clever and beautiful, but as we became
friends, I realised that she was beginning to imitate me; listening to my music
(Galaxie 500 and The Pixies) and copying my style (charity shop chic). It was
not obvious to anyone else; many students in those days frequented Oxfam and
listened to the same few bands
but after awhile I began to wonder who the
real Enid was.
We met at a Creche
that Leeds University ran on a Wednesday afternoon, for disadvantaged children
in the poorer end of the city. Whilst the other students soon dropped out, Enid
and I stuck with it. I stayed because I fancied Enid and wanted to get to know
her, as for Enid, at first I thought it was because she genuinely liked
children, and perhaps she did, but her parents were both teachers and I
gathered there was an assumption that she would follow the family trade.
We talked about a
young lad called Delroy, who regularly caused havoc.
Oh he is a
little sod I told her, I know I shouldnt say it, but a good,
hard slap would do him the world of good.
She looked shocked,
and for once she disagreed with me; I am sure that is what he has had
most of his life. He could do with a bit of love and care.
And that is what she
gave them, and they loved her too, perhaps the only people who ever did, the
only people who did not subsume her personality.
We ended up in bed
together on a couple of occasions, but our relationship soon became platonic;
she would have been happy to stay as lovers, but there was something about her
that made me resist, something that I could not put it into words. I missed her
when she wasnt there but when she was, I became bored. I wanted someone
to spar against, not to agree with everything I said, someone to learn from and
discover new things. She was clever enough and ended up with a First, which is
more than I did, but I wanted a rounded character and Enid was too flat, or
perhaps she had become a reflexion of myself, and I found myself dull.
And yet we managed
to stay friends throughout our time at University, which I rarely did with
people I had had sex with. It was an affectionate friendship which occasionally
threatened to turn back into something romantic, but mostly didnt. I
think that I was her only male friend that lasted the whole time at University,
perhaps her only friend at all. She did have a couple of romantic relationships
whilst we were in Leeds, both with men who I thought unsuitable for her; more
mature than her and exploitative. And for awhile she would change; more sporty
with Peter and a bit nastier with Stephen, but once the relationships had ended
she was back to what she once was; rather colourless, a canvas waiting to be
When I left Leeds
University, I lost touch with many of my friends, I had moved to Leicester to
train as a Social Worker, whilst almost everyone else I knew had either headed
to London or abroad. But Enid did a PGCE at Nottingham University and then
stayed in that city to begin to teach, and as the two cities are only a short
distance apart, we often spent our Sundays together, visiting a National Trust
property, sauntering around Sherwood Forest or exploring the Trent.
remained virtually the same as at University; mostly a friendship although on
more than one occasion we ended up having sex, nothing passionate but rather
caring and sweet.
happy? I asked her once, as we lay together in bed.
Yes, very. I
love my job, the children are sweet, and I have you
what more can I
I am only a
well I dont do this with my friends.
well this is nothing serious, just
said, and got dressed, without looking at me, and in that moment she looked
lost, like a little girl.
We arranged to meet
at Nottingham Castle, a fortnight later. There is a rather good café
there, and we often had a scone and drink before walking around the art
gallery. It was early July and warm, so I sat on one of the outside chairs and
drank a lemonade. Unusually she was late, and when she did arrive, she was arm
in arm with a young man.
Dave she told me and giggled slightly, in a way that I did not like. He
shook my hand, giving it a tighter squeeze than was necessary, before sitting
down and looking straight at me in a most challenging manner.
Perhaps it was
inevitable that he would not pass muster; I had always cared for Enid and
whilst I had undoubtedly used her, I was angry when I perceived similar
behaviour from other people. To my mind Dave was little more than a thug, with
his cropped hair and tattoos decorating both arms, and as we spoke it was
obvious that he was rather ignorant of the important things in life; no
interest in music or books and he crushingly vetoed my idea of looking at the
new Matisse exhibition in the gallery.
None of that
pretentious crap for me, he scoffed, whilst Enid smiled in
I assumed that they
must have met through some dating agency, but to my horror, it turned out that
he was a teacher who worked in the same school as Enid. Clearly I am more
than a little bit snobbish, but even so I expected some class and intelligence
from those who teach our children.
But what I disliked
about him most was his bullying manner, not outright rude but dismissive of
Enid, mocking her and assuming that I as a fellow man - would join
loves her Oxfam; it is where she gets all her clothes from
I smiled, I
love the way she dresses, and Oxfam is pretty fashionable.
not amongst adults. I will soon be dragging her to Debenhams. Dressing
her properly, we dont want the little bastards thinking that she lives on
He was speaking
about her, as if she wasnt there, and yet Enid smiled, as if proud of the
buffoon by her side, and I felt very sad.
He eventually asked
about me, and then gave me his views on Social Work, which were as enlightening
as his views on art and fashion.
worthy. But couldnt you do something better with your degree?
You need to be ambitious, none of this caring crap. I am hoping to be a head
teacher before I am thirty; really sort the school out.
always has lots of new ideas. Enid chirped.
I muttered, I wondered if I was just some Gamma male, who still dressed like a
student and wanted to muddle through life, compared to Dave who had ambition
and no self-doubt.
He gave my hand
another hard shake when they got up to leave, all of ten minutes later. After
that I could not face looking at Matisses cutouts, so I wandered around
Nottingham on my own, wondering if Dave had dragged Enid back to his flat for
an afternoon of sex, or if he was taking her round Debenhams to transform her
into something she wasnt
and I did not know which was worse.
I did not see her
again for six months. She did not ring me once, and when I rang her, she did
not stay on the telephone for long, and never suggested that we meet up.
I always pictured Dave listening, disapprovingly whilst we spoke; he did not
strike me as the type of man who would allow his lover to have friends of the
opposite sex, or even of the same sex. And I hoped that Enid had not revealed
our previous sexual relationship, something I doubted he would be very happy
And then one evening
in June, she did ring me.
Can we meet
up? she whispered quickly, tomorrow afternoon. The nature reserve
I had other plans,
but I had not seen Enid for so long, and missed her, so I swiftly agreed before
she changed her mind.
different; her clothes more respectable and her hair in a bob, which did not
really suit her, she had lost weight and looked like thousands of other young
professional women in Nottingham and elsewhere.
work? I asked, after a lingering hug.
Oh, I am
giving up at the end of the year. Dave and I are getting married this summer,
and well we dont need both of us working, especially if we have
But you love
not really and soon we will have children of our own and they will need a
She sounded as if
somebody was telling her what to say, perhaps there was an implant in her
He is doing
well, he got the deputy headmastership. The school is going places now that he
virtually runs the place, and hopefully the headteacher will retire
She paused, and we
admired the River Trent, which was running smoothly out towards Derbyshire. It
was cold and we both huddled together, and I briefly stroked her arm, and she
flinched before moving closer to me.
He is at the
football today, with his friends.
Does he know
that you are here?
Oh no, but I
needed a break, you know. Just to see you again. I dont know.
You can leave
him. I said quietly.
She moved away from
me slightly, so that we were no longer touching; why would I do that? I
have a lovely fiancée, and his family are very kind. His sister often
takes me out into the city. Helps me smarten up, look more adult, I am no
longer a student.
And I had visions of
an awful family patronising my friend; mocking her looks and dress sense.
A bunch of Philistines with whom she had nothing in common.
We parted at the
tram stop, and held each other tight. Her bones pressing hard against me.
sorry she told me, I just needed to see you.
Best of luck
with your wedding.
I am sorry
that I cannot invite you, but
okay. I told her, But if you ever need me
If I ever need
You know where
Leicester. And then her tram arrived, and she got on and did not
She rang me out of
It was two years
later, and yet I immediately recognised her. Although my life had moved on to
an extent, I often thought about her and wondered what she was doing.
I am okay. How
It is Dave, he
is dying, and I dont know what to do.
She wept as I
He has stomach
cancer; he wont admit it, but he is very unwell. Losing weight and
struggling at work, but his personality is still the same.
anything I can do?
I just wanted
to hear your voice; I have no other friends. I am trying my best to help him,
but he just gets angry, and his family dont help.
I had never heard so
sad, and I pictured her, hunched over the telephone, pale and scared.
I think he
blames me because we did not have a baby, and
She gulped and then
put the phone down without saying goodbye.
We met a fortnight
later, again at Sylvias Delights, a café in Beeston which sold
scrumptious cakes. Enid seemed much happier, and rather plumper than when I
last saw her. She kissed me on the mouth when I came into the
café. There was already a half-eaten chocolate cake on her table when I
I had assumed he was
getting better, that the diagnosis was a mistake judging by her positive
demeanour, but I was wrong.
He has finally
admitted he is ill, and now he just lies in bed feeling sorry for
Well, he has a
lot to feel sorry for himself about to be fair to him. And although I had
never liked him, I thought Enid was being harsh, but perhaps it was her way of
dealing with it.
Yeah I know.
But you have to face things; thats what he always used to tell
How are you
havent I? He cant do anything, so I guess that it is up to
She got up and
ordered us both some more cake, refusing my offer to pay.
She smiled almost
lustfully, as she dug into her chocolate gateaux, and ate it hungrily. As I
said goodbye to her outside the café, she pressed herself hard against
me, and kissed me on the lips. I was aroused, but also shocked.
soon, she breathed into my ear, before I disengaged myself and went to
find my car.
proved to be two evenings later.
Come to my
house, I need you.
come. Her voice was commanding, almost unrecognisable from the passive
Enid that I used to know.
They lived in a
quiet road, not far from the university. She was wearing a dress and was
wearing more perfume than usual.
just needed to see you.
probably asleep; thats all he does, that and be sick. I know that he is
ill but Jesus
She pushed me down
on the sofa and sat down next to me.
So what have
you been up to? she asked me, but then without waiting for a reply
started to kiss me.
But what about
Dave? I asked, when I managed to free my mouth.
Oh, he will be
asleep, and he is past caring, he is on so many drugs. And she tried to
kiss me again.
cant do this, not with Dave dying upstairs
Oh stop this
crap, do you think he wouldnt do the same? I need you, someone to love
me, now do your stuff.
Her voice sounded
different; thicker somehow, more determined, more masculine.
And to my shame,
whilst Dave lay dying upstairs, probably hearing every groan and creak, I had
sex with his wife, or to be more accurate, she had sex with me, taking me for
everything I had. And whilst I tried to be quiet, as she reached her climax she
shouted, fuck, again and again
As I got up to get
dressed I felt a hard slap on my bottom, and she smiled at me, and for a
.well for a moment she looked a little like Dave, despite her pale
skin and large breasts (larger than I remembered), there was something hard and
predatory about her. And then she looked like Enid again; beautiful and
unbearably sexy, so that I wanted to take her once more, but I did not dare. I
knew that we were done.
A few times, I
thought of ringing her, wondering what had happened to Dave, and how she was
coping, but I decided that if she needed me that she would contact me, and as a
time went on it became clear that she didnt. I had to fight against
feeling rejected and used, and yet I also felt relieved that I did not have to
see her again, because underneath the beautiful body I was not sure that any of
the real Enid was still alive.
It was not until
over three years later that I saw her for the last time, but I am not sure that
it really was her; it was dark, and I had drunk a little wine. I was out with
my fiancée Claire, we had just been to hear St Matthews Passion at
Nottinghams Royal Concert Hall and were having a wander before heading
back to the train station. Then I saw three men ahead of us, staggering down
the road, clearly very drunk.
For some reason I
could not stop looking at one of the young men, he was slightly shorter than
the other two and seemed familiar, perhaps one of my clients from work or even
one of my fellow social workers having a night on the town. He seemed to be the
centre of the group; louder and more boisterous.
After a few
moments I realised that the man looked strangely like Enid and smiled to myself
at the absurdity of such a thought, until I realised that it might actually be
her. Her hair was short, and her clothes masculine, but she had that familiar
walk and carriage. And as she turned to one of her companions, I saw her
profile and was certain it was her. I almost called her name, but didnt
dare, instead I hurried Claire along behind them, unable to tear myself
And then she turned
back and looked directly at me, her eyes dark and aggressive, and I felt that I
was looking at a vortex that dragged all that it saw inside it and still wanted
more. I was paralysed for a moment, trying to resist the force that was Enid,
or whatever it was that had possessed her. And then Claire, either sensing
something was wrong or just bored, pulled me away and after a moment of
tension, I turned, and we hurried to get our bus, neither of us looking back.
And behind us, the
being who possessed little more than Enids name and shape, wandered the
streets of Nottingham, looking for someone or something to devour.